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Keywords:

  • social support;
  • caregiving;
  • caregiver burden

Purpose: To critique social support and caregiver burden studies for (a) explication of constructs, (b) associations between constructs, (c) statistical conclusion validity, and (d) generalizability. Social support moderates caregiver burden, yet studies using different conceptualizations raise questions about validity.

Framework and Scope: Cooper's (1984) methodology for an integrated literature review was used to examine 50 studies (1980-1995) involving adult caregivers of older family members.

Findings: Inadequate explication of social support, potential spuriousness and reverse causation, threats to statistical conclusion validity, and lack of generalizability were found.

Conclusions and Implications: Progress has been made in caregiving and social support research, yet many problems remain. Future research should include multiple measures of support, controls for spuriousness and reverse causation, valid and reliable instruments, and samples of diverse populations.